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Poem: "Chaos and Disruption" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
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ysabetwordsmith
Poem: "Chaos and Disruption"
This poem came out of the August 15, 2017 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] alexseanchai. It also fills the "fighter" square in my 12-1-16 card for the iPod Shuffle Music Fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Polychrome Heroics series.


"Chaos and Disruption"


Jerryrigger was pretending to be Daphne,
hiding out in an alcove by the salad bar
and watching oblivious rich people
pretending to enjoy themselves.

She tried to remember what it was like
to find parties fun instead of exhausting,
or at least some kind of social challenge.

Her attention snagged on a preppie
who wore a smart gray suitcoat over
faded jeans and brown boots.

Automatically Jerryrigger
checked his outfit against hers,
a slate-blue tea dress with half-sleeves
and a chiffon skirt loose enough for her
to fight in if the shit hit the fan.

Claudia's dress had a black lace top
that hinted at her goth sympathies
without being altogether out-of-bounds
for the afternoon party they were at.

That was enough of a reminder
for Jerryrigger to slot the boy into
the "wannabe rebel" category.

Yates Peterffy, that was his name.
She had thought he was cute before
she got hijacked, and he still was;
he didn't seem to have grown up
at all in the intervening years.

As Yates and Claudia drew closer,
Jerryrigger could overhear the conversation.

"I just want to check on my friend, okay?"
Claudia said. "She's been a bit out of the loop.
I don't want her to feel lost in here."

Jerryrigger felt lost everywhere,
but that was normal.

"Oh sure," Yates said. "I'm all for it, you know?
Undermine their pompous authority, reject
their moral standards, make anarchy
and disorder your trademarks."

The memories crawled over
Jerryrigger's skin like cockroaches.

"You want to know what anarchy
is really like?" she said as she stepped
out of the shadows. "I've lived it. I spent
years living on Freiländ, which started out as
an anarchist utopia. But it didn't stay that way."

"Daphne, this might not be the best idea,"
Claudia said, shaking her head.

"What -- what happened to it?"
Yates asked. He looked baffled.

"People happened to it," Jerryrigger said.
"With nobody to tell them no, they did whatever
they wanted, and some of them wanted to do
horrible things. Anarchy isn't wearing jeans with
a suitcoat. It's people doing anything they like to you.
It's fighting every minute of every day, whether against
yourself or someone else." She nodded down at her plate.
"It's eating salad instead of foie gras because you
can see exactly what's on the leaves."

"That's awful!" Yates exclaimed, backing away.

"That's anarchy," Jerryrigger said with a shrug.
"But it's okay. I adapted to it. Do whatever it takes.
Cause as much chaos and disruption as possible,
but don't let them take you alive."

Yates let go of Claudia and
fled the scene in haste.

Jerryrigger sighed.
"I did it again, didn't I?"

"I'm afraid so," Claudia said.
"There will be other opportunities,
though. Come on, the servers are
putting out fresh fruit plates. Some of
that should be recognizable enough
for you to feel like eating it."

Jerryrigger's stomach growled.
She was accustomed to ignoring it,
but knew that she needed more than
leaves to keep her body healthy.

"All right," she agreed,
and went with Claudia to see
what foraging was now available.

* * *

Notes:

Jerryrigger (Daphne Dalton) -- She has fair skin with freckles, brown eyes, and straight brown hair that falls halfway down her back. She is tall and fit, with moderate breasts and narrow hips. Her ordeal left her with a lot of scars, including small nicks on hands and feet from scrambling through the ruins, patches of shiny corrugated skin from acid or frostbite, surgical slices, and most dramatically a graft of dark brown skin between her navel and pelvis. Most of those don't show in street clothes, but she doesn't wear skimpy debutante dresses like she used to. Daphne speaks Argentine Spanish, English, French, and German. She lives in Westbord. Her family is rich and famous; Daphne is particularly known for throwing fashionable parties. She was 22 when hijacked and is 28 now.
Built by a team of German gizmologists and super-gizmologists after WWII, the artificial island Freiländ was among the first of its kind. It began as a secret base with elaborate lab facilities, hidden by forest and beach outside. Later it suffered a major failure of its foundation and part of it sank, causing the leadership to abandon it. But some of the minions were left behind to survive if they could, and in later years it was also discovered by smugglers. It turned into a hellhole of zetetic wreckage inhabited by psychopaths and criminals.
As a result of her experiences, Daphne has Prolonged Duress Stress Disorder. She thinks that things like pain, torture, and betrayal are normal. She doesn't want to, and she's fighting to overcome that; but it's like an addiction because hurting other people meant she was in control and thus not in immediate danger. So it's a struggle for her to give up those things. Daphne dislikes being touched and feels jumpy in crowds. She has trouble relating to people and prefers to isolate herself. Trust is impossible and even reliance is difficult for her to manage. Daphne finds the time gap overwhelming, especially the news she missed and the technological innovations; she hates smartphones, preferring the older vidwatches.
Her family relationships are similarly strained. Daphne's mother was killed by the hijackers, sensibly fighting to keep them from taking over the plane -- and actually managed to kill one of the three in the scuffle. Her father is struggling to function as a single parent, largely relying on nannies and other hired help. He expects Daphne to pick up where she left off, either going to graduate school (the original plan after her vacation) or getting married (intended for this approximate age). Daphne's baby brother Jude is another challenge. She left behind a cute toddler just beginning to talk, and came home to a troubled eight-year-old whose emotional outbursts grate on her nerves. Most of her college and socialite friends have moved on without her.
Many of Daphne's skills developed on Freiländ, and some of her others improved for sake of survival. Jerryrigging includes the ability to scavenge for materials and then build whatever is needed. It gives her a tendency to collect and hoard everything from food to bobby pins, which bothers the other rich people. Instead of a formal lair, she caches useful items everywhere. Her interrogation methods include plenty of torture, thus making the results erratic. Kampfringen is a German system of unarmed self-defense including punches, elbow strikes, headbutts, jointlocks, chokeholds, and to a lesser extent kicks. Her strong constitution helps with a variety of survival aspects such as resisting illness, healing from injuries, and enduring harsh conditions. She is skilled at sailing, surfing, swimming, and other water sports.
Her escape from Freiländ has left Daphne with a determination to recover from the horrors she suffered (and inflicted on others) but her toolset is not ideally suited to that, so she has a lot of work ahead of her.
Origin: Celebrating Daphne's graduation from college, her mother took her on a vacation to South America. The family's private jet was hijacked and taken to Freiländ, an artificial island off the coast of Argentina but located in international waters. While there, she was tortured and subjected to mad science experiments that left her mind and body scarred. She escaped, and then had to dodge the other inhabitants until she could steal a sailboat and make her way back to Westbord. By the time she arrived, six years had passed.
Uniform: On-duty Jerryrigger wears a formfitting black t-shirt and bike shorts for insulation and light armor covered by a black leather biker jacket and green canvas cargo pants, with a leather belt, black-and-green paracord bracelets, and hiking boots. She has another knee-length coat for light armor. A black multifunction scarf mask can cover her face. She also has a helmet, gas mask, and armored vest for extra protection. For weapons she carries a cyclone gun, a handgun, a pain pistol, a slingshot, and/or a survival knife. A rucksack contains survival gear. That collection is inspired by the kind of stuff she found on Freiländ. Off-duty Daphne wears customized clothing that looks like high fashion but incorporates all manner of things that can be stripped off to use as raw materials: buttons, zippers, hooks, rings, pins, belts, cords, etc.
Qualities: Master (+6) Jerryrigging, Master (+6) Wealth, Expert (+4) Hostess, Expert (+4) Kampfringen, Expert (+4) Keen Senses, Expert (+4) Physically Fit, Good (+2) Constitution, Good (+2) Interrogation, Good (+2) Languages, Good (+2) Political Science Degree, Good (+2) Water Sports, Good (+2) Wilderness Survival
Poor (-2) PDSD
Vulnerability: Daphne's keen senses make it easy to detect things that most people couldn't -- distant whispers, subtle color changes in a drugged drink -- but leave her vulnerable to loud or sudden noises and bright or fluctuating lights. Physical touch can be uncomfortable or painful. Strong smells and tastes can bother her too, especially artificial fragrances or flavors. She has difficulty with mass-produced food products because on Freiländ everything was either preserved rations or foraged wildlife. The hubbub of city life is overwhelming; Daphne tends to hide her feelings and pretend that everything is fine, but inside she hates it and the flashbacks wear on her. That belief that misery is normal has hindered her ability to adapt and learn ways of compensating for the sharpened senses.
Vulnerability: Secret identity. Daphne doesn't want people to know about the Jerryrigger side of her life. The thought of anyone finding out makes her anxious, and she goes to great lengths to protect the secret.
Motivation: To recover.

Obsidian (Claudia Du Pont) -- She has fair skin, long straight black hair, and green eyes. Her heritage is French. The black sheep of her very rich family, she befriends Jerryrigger at a party where almost none of the invitees came. She doesn't care what people think. Her rebel skills include theft, snooping, vandalism, hacking, and pissing people off. As a hobby, Claudia enjoys growing plants with black flowers, and the mostly-white ones that bloom at night.
Qualities: Master (+6) Wealth, Expert (+4) Impervious, Good (+2) Gothic Gardening, Good (+2) Perfect Health, Good (+2) Rebel Skills
Poor (-2) Black Sheep

Yates Peterffy
-- He has fair skin, brown eyes, and upswept brown hair. Born into a rich family, he has little else to recommend him. He attends college because it's expected, not because he's any good at it. He wears jeans with suit jackets and thinks of that as rebellion.
Qualities: Master (+6) Wealth, Good (+2) Cute, Good (+2) Ladies' Man
Poor (-2) Shallow as a Mudpuddle

* * *

"Undermine their pompous authority, reject their moral standards, make anarchy and disorder your trademarks. Cause as much chaos and disruption as possible but don't let them take you ALIVE."
-- Sid Vicious

This is Claudia's black lace dress. Here is Jerryrigger's slate-blue tea dress.

Feeling lost is a common problem following life upheavals and other causes. It can come with depersonalization and derealization, like Jerryrigger has. There are things you can do to find yourself again.

The ideal of anarchy is utopic freedom. The reality tends to be a great deal worse. This is because we have yet to invent any system of government that does not begin to suck as soon as you add humans to it.

Foie gras is a delicacy made of pureed goose liver.

Prolonged Duress Stress Disorder is similar to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, but involves a long span of torment instead of a single brief incident. Traumatic stress tends to have a profound negative impact on relationships and socializing. This encourages isolation, which can cause further problems. Understand how to cope with traumatic stress or help a friend with it.
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